Job Design

Job Design

Job design is the assignment of tasks and responsibilities that define the jobs of individuals and units.

Each organization has distinct areas of work specialization i.e the degree to which the work necessary to achieve organizational goals is broken down into various jobs e.g buyer, sales, persons, accountant comprises the job design.

What is included in a given job depends on the job design. Job design means the specification of task activities associated with a particular job.

Work specialization

Refers to the manner in which work in an organization is divided. It may be:

  1. High degree specialization – this is where individuals focus on one / few tasks e.g. in the production and assembly of automobiles workers specialize in specific tasks
  2. Low degree specialization – This is where individuals perform many different tasks in an organization e.g. a manager who hires and fires keeps financial records, contacts suppliers and sells organization products.

Merits of specialization

  1. Speed is enhanced
  2. Better quality output
  3. Greater accountability
  4. Expertise is enhanced
  5. Management is easier when supervising specialized tasks


  1. Boredom and monotony
  2. Lack of creativity/ Loss of craftsmanship
  3. Unemployment
  4. Exposes to workers to occupational hazards
  5. Too much interdependence which may lead to conflict.

Approaches to job design

  • Job Simplification

Is the process of configuring jobs so that jobholders have only a small number of narrow activities to perform. It is also called job specialization as advanced by economist Adam Smith and fostered by Fredrick Taylor. Taylor emphasized reducing jobs to narrow tasks and training workers in the best way to do them. Job simplification increases output and quality of production. It has negative side effects like boredom, in-creativity, low job satisfaction, etc.

  • Job rotation –

Is the practice of periodically shifting workers through a set of jobs in a planned sequence. Job rotation  has  the  advantage  of  cross-training  workers,  increasing  their  capabilities,  expanding  job assignment and enhancing their conceptual skills.

  • Job enlargement

Is the allocation of a wider variety of similar tasks to a job in order to make it more challenging. Job enlargement broadens job scope (the number of different tasks an employee performs in a particular job).


  • Job enrichment

Is the process of upgrading the job task mix in order to increase significantly the potential for growth, achievement, responsibility and recognition.   Through training, job enrichment increases job depth (the degree to which individuals can plan and control the work involved in their job).

  • Departmentalisation

Departmentalization is the clustering of individual position into units and of units into departments and larger units to form an organisation’s hierarchy.Three of the commonly used patterns of departmentalization are:

  • Functional structure – Groups positions into units on the basis of similarity of expertise, skills and work activities e.g mixing, accounting, production, human resources, etc.
  • Divisional structure – Groups positions into units according to the similarity of products or markets (e.g. leather factory, plastic factory, canvas factory, etc.)
  • Hybrid structure – Combines aspects of both functional and division forms with some jobs being grouped into departments by function and others grouped by products or markets.
  • Vertical Co-ordination

Vertical co-ordination refers to the various mechanisms required to facilitate the top to bottom linkage. It includes:

  • Formalisation –   The   degree   to   which   written   policies,   rules,   procedures,   job descriptions, and other documents specify what actions are (or are not) to be taken under a given set of circumstances. Formalization helps bring about vertical co- ordination by specifying expected behaviours in advance
  • Span of management (span of control) – refers to the number of subordinates who report directly to a specific manager

An organization may have a narrow or wide span of control

  1. Narrow span – under this system few subordinates report to a single manager (tall structure)
  2. Wide span – here many subordinates report to a single manager (flat structure
  • Centralisation versus decentralization – Centralisation is the extent to which power and authority are retained at the top organizational levels.

Decentralisation is the extent to which power and authority are relayed to lower levels of organizational structure.


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